A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Revolutionary Period

by Alixander Haban Escote

The supreme quest for freedom and independence started in Barcelona, Spain when La Solidaridad, a fortnightly edited by Graciano Lopez-Jaena, financed by Dr Pablo Rianzares, and supported by the Comité de Propaganda, was published on February 15, 1889. With the policy to champion democracy and liberalism, to expose the real plight of the country, and to work peacefully for economic and social reforms, the newspaper published not only news, but also articles and essays about the Philippines and its people.

As editor of the newspaper, Lopez-Jaena did not receive any monetary compensation, but was given free meals, lodging, clothing, and modest pocket money. In 1891, he collected his articles and speeches and incorporated them in his book entitled Discursos y Articulos Varios.

In writing for the newspaper, Filipino reformists used pen names: Antonio Luna, Taga-Ilog; Jose Ma. Panganiban, Jomapa; Domingo Gomez, Romero Franco; Clemente Jose Zulueta, Juan Totoó; Jose Rizal4, Laong Laan and Dimas Alang; Marcelo del Pilar, Kupang, Plaridel, and Maitalaga; Mariano Ponce, Naning, Tikbalang, and Kalipulako, Eduardo Lete, Pedro Paterno, Jose Alejandrino, Isabelo delos Reyes, Antonio Ma Regidor, among others. Ferdinand Blumentritt5, a Bohemian scholar, and Miguel Morayta, a Spanish historian, also worked for the newspaper.

On October 31, 1889, Lopez-Jaena passed the editorship to Marcelo del Pilar, who left his family in the Philippines, went to Spain, and literally gave his life for the newspaper. Del Pilar became the moving spirit of the reform movement and contacted progressive Europeans who would fight side by side with Filipino reformists.

In the next five years, Del Pilar, put out the newspaper despite of affliction, deprivation, and starvation. The newspaper ceased publication in Madrid, Spain on November 15, 1895. Apolinario Mabini had written Del Pilar about the difficulty of raising funds and the added obstacles of getting copies into the Philippines.

Two months and three days later, that was on January 18, 1896, Ang Kalayaan, the official revolutionary newspaper of the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Respectable Society of the Sons of the People) founded by Andres Bonifacio6 and Emilio Jacinto, was published under the editorship of Pio Valenzuela. Printed with 2 000 copies, it exposed the inhumane and indignities of civil guards and Spanish friars and called for a bloody revolution against Spain. To deceive the Spaniards, the founders and the editor made it appeared that the newspaper was printed in Yokohoma, Japan, that the Japanese were in sympathy with the Filipino people, and that the editor was Marcelo del Pilar, who at that time was in Madrid and at the eve of his death.

The first issue of the newspaper contained a supposed editorial of Del Pilar, which Jacinto actually wrote. It greeted the people and wished them solidarity and independence and offered them his life and all he have for the good of the Filipino people. There was also an article by Jacinto and Valenzuela’s Catuiran, which described the cruelties of the Spanish friars and civil guards of San Francisco del Monte on a helpless village lieutenant. It also contained Bonifacio’s Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa that expressed the oppression of Spain and encourage the Filipino people to liberate their country; and Jacinto’s Manifesto that urged the Filipino people to revolt against Spain and to secure their liberty.

Bonifacio, Jacinto, and Valenzuela wrote under their pen names: Agap-ito Bagumbayan, Dimas-Ilaw and Pinkian, and Madlang-Away, respectively. Jacinto was about to publish the second issue when the Spanish authorities discovered the Katipunan. The newspaper, then, abruptly ceased publication.

On the other hand, Clemente Jose Zulueta, an enterprising writer, disappointed bibliophile, and later official researcher in the archives of Paris, Madrid, and Mexico, edited and published La Libertad on June 20, 1898. However, Gen Emilio Aguinaldo7, ordered the suspension of the newspaper because of not applying for a license through his offices. The July 4, 1898 decree stated, “While abnormal circumstances to the war still prevail, all publications, without permission from the government are strictly prohibited.” Aguinaldo confiscated the printing paraphernalia of the newspaper, which was operated by Asilo de Huérfanos, an Augustian orphanage in Malabon.

Probably the most read, most famous, and most important newspaper of the revolution was La Independencia. Gen Antonio Luna, the Commander in chief of the Army of Liberation of the First Philippine Republic, together with his brother Joaquin and a few friends, founded it. Its first issue appeared on September 3, 1898 and its last issue appeared on November 11, 1900. Like Ang Katipunan, the newspaper also concealed its place of publication and declared that it was published in Manila when it was actually published in Malabon. It used the same printing press that the La Libertad used. It had four pages, with one page devoted to advertisements, and contained news stories, with the foreign articles taken from the newly circulated the Manila Times.

La Independencia editorial staff was composed of highly liberate men and women who, most of them, wrote under their pen names: Antonio Luna, Taga-Ilog, director; Salvador Vivencio del Rosario, X and Juan Tagalo, editor in chief; Jose Abreu, Kaibigan, Cecilio Apostol, Catulo, Mariano del Rosario, Tito-Tato, Clemente Jose Zulueta, M. Kaun, Fernando Ma. Guerrero, Fluvio Gil, Rafael Palma8, Hapon and Dapit-Hapon, staff writers; R Regidor, Jose Palma, Rosa Sevilla, Luis Guerrero, Mariano Ponce, Manuel Guerrero, Rianzares Bautista, Apolinario Mabini, Leon Ma. Guerrero, Florentina Arellano, Ferdinand Blumentritt, Epifanio de los Santos, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, contributors; and Felipe Calderon, proofreader.

La Independencia, which castigated both the Spaniards and the Americans, was published in consonance with the wave of nationalism and with the historical occurrence in Malolos, Bulacan. It had the distinction of surviving the 1896 Philippine Revolution and resisting American imperialism.

On September 15, 1898, La Republica Filipina, the newspaper edited by Pedro Paterno, was published in Mandaluyong, Rizal. Like La Independencia, the newspaper was written in refined style and was an example of editorial direction and excellence. However, it was closed down on January 8, 1899 with the hope that the Filipino people will achieve national unity under a democratic republic. Maj Gen Douglas MacArthur, in his 1901 annual report to the Secretary of War, called it an “official organ of the insurgent government” along with La Independencia.

Periodical El Heraldo de la Revolucion Filipina; El Heraldo de la Revolucion Filipina; El Heraldo de la Revolucion; El Heraldo, the official publication of the revolutionary government founded by Gen Emilio Aguinaldo on July 14, 1898, was first published on September 29, 1898 in Malolos, Bulacan. It was a bilingual, Spanish and Tagalog and Spanish and Ilocano, biweekly newspaper edited by Arsenio Cruz Herrera, who was the director of public instruction in the Malolos government and who also became City Mayor of Manila. In January 1899, it settled on the name Heraldo Filipino; this changed in April 1899 to Indice Oficial; and in May 1899 to Gaceta de Filipinas, which remained until it ceased publication in October 1899.

La Revolution was published in Jaro, Iloilo on December 18, 1898. Small, it explained that “our claims are as great as our strength” and it aimed “to defend the rights that the Filipino people have won.”

Published by young professionals, who belonged to the Club Democratico Independiente, Columnas Volantes was printed in Lipa, Batangas on March 24, 1899. It “looked like a real newspaper because besides recording the events mostly about Lipa, it commented on general politics and military movements.” Its writers included Fidel Reyes, Gregorio Solis, Teodoro Kalaw, and Baldomero Roxas. It had also correspondence in Laguna, Hugo Salazar; and La Union, Diego Gloria and Lorenzo Tinoy.

Edited by Isabelo de los Reyes, Filipinas Ante Europa and El Defensor de Filipinas were the two nationalistic newspapers published in Barcelona, Spain on November 18, 1899.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – American Colonial Period